backgammon

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The Independent Online
A mutual holding game is one where both sides have a high anchor - one of three points (your opponent's 4-pt, 5-pt or bar point). Today's position occurs after the sequence: White 4,3: 24/20, 13/10; Black 6,6: 24/18(2), 13/7(2); White 4,3: 24/20, 13/10.

Other than the running game, this type of game is the easiest to play and is often won by the player who first throws a useful set of doubles. The strategy has three elements in the following order of priority: firstly, safely disengage the back checkers - this can normally only be done when you throw doubles. Second, build blocking points in front of your opponent, for example in the position above, Black would like to build his 9, 10 or 11 points. Third, build points in your home board. This becomes increasingly important as the two armies fail to disengage. A strong home board is a good deterrent to your opponent leaving with one checker from his anchor: the stronger your home board, the more likely that a hit on the remaining checker will prove fatal to your opponent.

Doubling strategy is also quite straightforward and many games end with a double that is passed. Either one player throws a set of doubles which puts him way ahead, or else leaves a shot that is fatal if hit, but wins the game if missed. In each case, the double is normally obvious and the decision to take or pass clear cut. As doubling decisions go these are among the easiest and it is unusual to see bad cube errors in a mutual holding game.

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